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The history of the ski resort of Courchevel

From the origins of the resort to its latest innovations, find here everything that makes the specificity and character of Courchevel: its history, its ski domain, its villages, its qualities... In short its identity!

A bit of history

At the origin of the ski resort, Saint-Bon-en-Tarentaise

Saint-Bon-en-Tarentaise or Saint-Bon-Courchevel is located at 1100 meters above sea level, at the foot of the Vanoise massif (Croix du Verdon, Croix de la Saulire, Aiguille du Fruit) and in the Tarentaise valley with a stunning view towards the summits. The economy of the village is based on cattle breeding and dairy cow farming until the beginning of the 20th century and already Alpine pastures are used in summer to benefit from the quality of the grass.

If the settlement of the houses does not exceed the altitude of 1300 meters, the barns, cellars and Alpine chalets dot the slopes of the Vanoise up to 1600 meters. Saint-Bon lives from the cattle breeding, dairy cow farming and also from the Tarentaise industry, which develops at the beginning of the 20th century. It is also at this moment that tourism is making its appearance on the commune, with the opening of the first hotel, Le Lac Bleu, which benefits from the clientele of Brides-les-Bains located a few meters below.

Until 1925 Saint-Bon was a summer tourism destination, benefiting from the ease of access by train and its much appreciated clean air, wide open spaces and thermal baths in Brides-les-Bains, all sought after by curists. But the practice of skiing is already in full swing and the Hotel du Lac Bleu decides to open in winter starting in 1925.

First ski lift, ski jump and bobsleigh ...

Winter activities are slowly taking off in Saint-Bon as elsewhere: skiing, ski jumping, bobsleighing, sledding, ice skating. There was no specific equipment to practice these activities. Instead, with winter and the presence of snow, roads were used for tobogganing and bobsleigh, a tennis court for ice skating, only the ski jump required a springboard in the Le Praz. But the rise of winter tourism in the Alpine mountains had begun.

It was not until 1945 that the first ski lift was built in Moriond. In 1946, the General Council made a major decision: to set up, starting from scratch, a ski resort on the place called Les Tovets, which overlooks Saint-Bon. This was a first since, until then, the ski resorts have all been created from an existing village. In this regards, Courchevel will serve as a reference in the development of the winter sports industry.

Road, electricity and telephone, water supply, it is finally at the end of 1947 that the first hotel of the future Courchevel comes out of ground. The first two ski lifts are built by a company that will also become a reference in its field: Pomagalski.

Since 1950, an authentic style for accommodations

In 1953, Laurent Chappis, one of the architects of the resort, brings up a mazot (barn) in Courchevel to use as a dwelling. Soon after, the mazot influenced the development of an entire subdivision of chalets inspired by the mazot. It is also the birth of a form of accommodation that makes the mark of Courchevel: chalets in the traditional style appreciated by the vacationers of the whole world.

Even today, the mazot is an inspiration for the construction of chalets in Courchevel and in many Savoyard resorts. Since its inception, the resort of Courchevel has generally favored an architecture reminiscent of the traditional chalets, as well for apartment residences as individual dwellings. A succesful approach that has allowed the resort to stand out and propose today its unique cachet and an atmosphere that is not found in the architectures of large ensembles that can be found in some major Alpine resorts.

A ski resort is born !

As a result of the work undertaken during the decade, Courchevel already has all the ski resorts that can be found today: in 1959 the resort is equipped with a cable car, 6 drag lifts and 3 cable cars. On the accommodation side, there are no fewer than 210 buildings with a total capacity of nearly 3 000 beds for about fifty businesses. Courchevel is already set for greatness. The development work will continue to achieve what is the resort today, a leading ski area integrated into the largest connected area of the world: the 3 Valleys.

The ski resort today

Today Courchevel has no fewer than 5 accommodation sites, of which 4 are integrated into the ski area.

The original village of Saint-Bon remains a part of the resort and offers holidaymakers accommodation at 1100 meters above sea level in an authentic village setting. It does not have ski lifts connected to the domain but offers regular shuttles. A ski slope allows a return by ski to Saint-Bon.

Just above is Courchevel Le Praz at 1300 meters above sea level. Like Saint-Bon, Le Praz is a historic village, inhabited year long before the ski industry developped. Ideal for families who want a traditional setting, surrounded by forest while being at the foot of the slopes. Holidaymakers will find many rental options of chalets and apartments in residence.

With Courchevel 1550, today Courchevel Village, the altitude begins to be felt: a part of the resort is located directly on the slope, the architecture alternates between residences of apartments and collective or individual chalets.

Very close to Courchevel Village, Courchevel 1650, now Courchevel Moriond is renowned for its exposure to sunlight which earned it its slogan: the sunny. Courchevel Moriond extends up to 1800 meters of altitude in La Daille and offers a privileged access to the ski area.

Finally Courchevel 1850, today Courchevel, is the flagship of the resort. It is here that Courchevel has built its reputation as a showbiz station and wealthy elite. Courchevel (1850) is home to 4 Palaces and many 4-star and 5-star hotels. Courchevel offers a wide selection for accomodation of luxurious chalets, chalets of prestige of variable capacity, able to satisfy the most demanding demands.


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